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Posted: August 19, 2007

Statistics - market size, number of workers in an occupation, etc. - are vital to knowing how a business figures in its industry. These sites help you put a finger on the right numbers.

Biz stats. This site promises to help you "benchmark a business in five seconds." We didn't set a timer, but it did provide some quick calculations meant to help determine how a business in a given industry - say, construction, accounting, or even a dentist's office - ought to be performing, based on its revenue. Links provide such information as the number of people employed in an industry, and its total U.S. market, in dollars. One interesting comparison: Vehicle manufacturing is a $276-billion-per-year endeavor, but car parts is almost as huge at $237 billion.

Labor bureau. There are quite a few ways to start digging into the mounds of data heaped together by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, and this page provides some places to start tunneling. View industries at a glance, or see monthly payroll stats by state and locality, or through a "career guide" that uses statistics to help job seekers find out occupations, education and training requirements, and pay scales for various industries.

Business census. In the run-up to this year's economic census, the U.S. Census Bureau has launched this site to inform companies about the inquiry that takes place every five years. Easy-to-scan industry snapshots based on the 2002 data provide glimpses into such businesses as auto-repair shops, loan brokers, and the curiously labeled "drinking places."

Industry numbers. The University of Minnesota keeps a tidy list of links to sources of industry figures, including those of the Census Bureau, the federal International Trade Administration, and Eurostat, a business-statistics warehouse at the European Commission. We also discovered a link here to the university's reference page about the deadly Aug. 1 collapse of the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis.

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Contact staff writer Reid Kanaley at 215-854-5114 or rkanaley@phillynews.com.

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